Can Psychological Factors Contribute to Back Pain?

Standing on your feet for long periods of time; improperly lifting heavy objects; sitting too long–these are common physical occurrences that can lead to back pain, particularly evident in the workplace. But what about psychology? How about social factors? Could there be factors outside the physical realm that affect low back pain, specifically? A group of psychologists conducted a study to find out just that.

We all know that having a stressful work life can lead to a slew of unhealthy issues like fatigue, depression, anxiety and even substance abuse. In a recent meta-analysis, researchers from TU Dresden investigated 19,000 data sets from 18 studies to investigate whether psychosocial (relating to the combination of both psychological and social factors) at the workplace had any affect on low back pain.


psychosocial factors for back pain


The findings were intriguing:

“People with a high workload suffered more frequently from chronic low back pain. Employees with more job control were less affected. It was also shown that back pain was lower when people received social support at work from their superiors and colleagues,” comments social psychologist Dr. Anne Tomaschek. (source)

While this does not confirm causation, it is still worth taking note of psychosocial factors that may negatively weigh on a person’s health–in this case, low back pain. However, here are some suggestions we believe can help you reduce your chances of back pain in the workplace:

  • Take breaks from sitting–get up every 30 minutes or so to walk or move around.
  • Make sure your sitting posture is correct and your work area is comfortable. Read these tips from UCLA.
  • Lift properly. You want your feet spread apart to give you a wide base of support and bend at the knees–not the waist. Full details on properly lifting from MedlinePlus.
  • Use a chair that has lumbar support and more great recommendations here.

If your back pain just won’t seem to go away, the professionals at Everett Spine & Rehab would be happy to examine and find a treatment plan just for you. We are open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 6pm. Our office is located in Everett, bordering Lynnwood and Mill Creek.